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Tag Archives: acts of contrition

It’s Not What It Seems

As you grow close to co-workers, family and friends, there are certain tendencies that you expect to see.  Sure, there will be anomalies that will occur that might catch you off guard momentarily, but you know them.  Meanwhile, there will be other phases which people go through that will question how much you really know about these individuals.  Nonetheless, sometimes actions, behavior or words are not what it seems.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? – Matthew 3:7
At first glance, I didn’t understand why John the Baptist rebuked Pharisees and Sadducees in the passage above for wanting to be baptized.  At this time in history becoming baptized by John was trending, the popular thing to do in the Jewish community.  Thus, John saw through their hidden motives, like those praying out loud at the weeping wall, trying to convince others of their godliness.  While individuals today continue to seek attention in similar ways, be careful that you’re not fooled by someone living a lie like Jim Carrey in Liar Liar.
Produce fruit in keeping with repentance, Matthew 3:8.
When actions appear to be fake, phony and unusual, the Bible provides a truth detector.  The author of Matthew who is a member of the tribe of Levi suggests that genuine confession is followed by acts of contrition.  If an alcoholic is seen at a bar Sunday night after informing his pastor I have finally quit drinking, no one will believe him.  When a woman promises not to have another affair yet is flirting with a co-worker the next day, what good is this vow?  Since we live in a world of hypocrites, stop coming up with excuses for poor decisions or it’s not what it seems may become reality.
by Jay Mankus
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Actions Affect Access

Since I grew up in the Roman Catholic Church, I was taught to go confession whenever I made a mistake, messed up or sinned.  Initially, this meant going to a confessional booth.  However, as I got older I meet face to face with a priest.  After bearing my soul, I was usually told to say x amount of Hail Mary’s or Our Father’s, then I would be forgiven.

When you spread out your hands in prayer, I hide my eyes from you; even when you offer many prayers, I am not listening. Your hands are full of blood! – Isaiah 1:15

Looking back, this practice doesn’t make sense.  Then again, I was also encouraged not to challenge authority so I conformed until college.  Through Bible studies, conferences and retreats, I learned that my actions affect access to God.  While you have to be careful not to fall into an Old Testament view of God, acts of contrition following confession is a essential.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective, James 5:16.

The prophet Isaiah first informed the Jews that there are conditions when God will not listen to your prayers.  Unconfessed sin is like a barrier that blocks your connection with God.  Without genuine repentance people will experience periods of mundane prayer where the Holy Spirit is absent.  Following the model displayed in James 5:16 can awaken the Spirit of God.  If you want to improve your spiritual Wi-Fi connection with God, think twice before giving into temptation since actions affect access.

by Jay Mankus

Finger Pointing Doesn’t Solve the Problem

When someone is caught doing something they are not suppose to do, there are three common defenses.  The first excuse usually sounds something like, “I didn’t know.”  If you can’t claim plausible deniability, the blame game is often the next response.  Finally, if this doesn’t work, there’s always one final trump card to play, “the Devil made me do it.”

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it,” Genesis 3:12.

This pattern of denial was demonstrated by Adam and Eve after breaking the only rule in the Garden of Eden, “do not eat from the tree of knowledge, Genesis 2:17.  As soon as this line was crossed, the finger pointing began.  Trying to deflect who was ultimately responsible, the consequence of sin began to influence human behavior.  Instead of learning from this mistake to avoid future errors, energy was wasted on finger pointing.

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate,” Genesis 3:13.

Jesus spent his last three years on earth introducing a new way of living.  This teaching involved a new covenant based upon the element of truth.  Within the gospel of John, Jesus urges listeners to seek the truth which will ultimately set you free.  When hearts and minds become renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit, finger pointing is replaced by acts of contrition.  May a spirit of revival reverse social media’s blame game with a movement based upon solutions.

by Jay Mankus

 

Reasons to Consider

When Job endured a series of trials and tribulations, each one of his three friends had a different perspective.  Coming from an old school point of God, each believed the Lord was punishing Job for something done in the past or present.  Instead of praying for insight, individuals jump to false conclusions daily, following the the footsteps of Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite and Zophar the Naamathite.

Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature, 1 Corinthians 14:20.

As I try to come to grips with my emergency eye surgery, there are some practical explanations.  Maybe I spent too much time on my computer or watched too much television growing up.   Perhaps, poor eating habits are to blame, fueled by a lack of a consistent sleep pattern.  For now I can only speculate, waiting for the Holy Spirit to provide some insight.

“Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord: though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall become like wool, Isaiah 1:18.”

When things don’t make sense in life, an Old Testament prophet encourages individuals to reason with God.  This process begins with coming cleaning, confessing any wrong doing that is blocking your relationship with God.  However, acts of contrition must follow repentance.  Sure the why’s may remain a mystery, but the Holy Spirit will provide pieces to the puzzle along the way as you continue to ponder reasons why you experience what you do.

by Jay Mankus

A Reunion of Sorts

Time has a way of healing wounds from the past.  Although things will never be the same, when you run into an old face, its nice to reminisce.  If you have the opportunity to talk long enough, you may even encounter a reunion of sorts.

Review the past for me, let us argue the matter together; state the case for your innocence, Isaiah 43:26.

Unfortunately, human emotions struggle to overlook transgressions of the past.  Some people may never recover from the heartache they have endured in life.  Thus, forgiveness is sometimes an empty word spoken as bitterness causes individuals to hold grudges.  Subsequently, until reconciliation occurs, a true reunion will have to wait.

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, Acts 3:19.

While interacting at a graduation party over the weekend, I learned a painful lesson.  Before you can move forward, you have to let go your past.  It may be a tough pill to swallow, but repentance without acts of contrition is meaningless.  Therefore, bury the hatchet now while there is still time so that a full reunion can be completed.

by Jay Mankus

Freewill, Destruction and Restoration

One of the best visual illustrations of freewill can found in the last book of the Bible.  While on the Island of Patmos, John compares freewill to a door with a special feature.  This door does not have a handle on God’s side.  Thus, God can call and knock, hoping individuals will hear His voice, but only you can let God in.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me, Revelation 3:20.

Unfortunately, disobedience is a common response to God’s calling.  According to the apostle Paul, people have a tendency to set their hearts and minds on the flesh.  Those who become distracted by the world regularly ignore, reject or put God on hold.  Jesus warned his followers of falling into this pattern, referring to a broad road that leads to destruction.  Moses in his farewell address simplifies this concept by proclaiming that each day individuals have the opportunity to select life or death by the choices you make.

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires, Romans 8:5.

Fortunately, those who mess up by sinning are given a second chance.  Lamentations 3 provides a promise for those longing for forgiveness as God’s grace is available day after day.  Therefore, when you utilize freewill, opting for disobedience over obedience, there is hope for those who are facing destruction.  Yet, God is not holding your hand, forcing you to do what is right.  The choice is yours.  In view of this, lean of God’s mercy the next time you fall down, followed by acts of contrition as a sign of penance.  Choose wisely.

by Jay Mankus

The Cleansing of the Soul

The Greek philosopher Plato referred to the soul as a psyche with 3 parts: reason, high spirited and appetite.  Modern definitions suggest the soul is the essence of who you are, personification or something connected to the heart and mind.  However you envision the soul, one thing is clear, sooner or later a cleansing will be necessary.

If a car needs their cooling system flushed every 50,000 to 75,000 miles, then why would individuals go years without cleansing their soul.  The Message Bible provides a modern illustration of what it means to be purge your soul from the stresses of life.  Listen to Jesus as he addresses wounded souls:   28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

An Old Testament prophet recounts a similar procedure within Isaiah 1:12-20.  The situation recorded takes us behind the scenes to God’s perspective.  Exposing the flaws of mankind, impure motives abound, preventing the Lord from answering prayers for forgiveness.  Yet, when honest lips take the initiative, the cleansing process can commence.  Nonetheless, words are meaningless unless acts of contrition follow.  Therefore, if you truly want transgressions of the past flushed out of your body, practice the words of Isaiah 1:16-18 and you too can experience a cleansing of your soul.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

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